In elder or dementia caregiving, one of the hardest decisions to make is to move your loved one out of his or her home (or your home) and into a more institutional setting. Making the move bearable for your loved one may not always be possible. They may stand firm… They're staying put, and that's that!
It may help with the transition if you can remember some significant changes from your own life when moving parents into a nursing home:
Questions to consider before moving parents into a nursing home:
- What did it feel like to you as a child when your family moved to a new home in a new location? Think about those first few days of trying to find your things, especially if some of them had to be left behind. Try to recall what your emotions were when you went to the new school the first time—all those strangers and you didn’t know anyone. Did your parents’ logical explanations and promises that “everything will be alright” make any impact on how you felt?
- What did it feel like as an adult when you went to a new job for the first time? Managing to learn a lot of new names in a short period of time was stressful, wasn’t it? The same was probably true of learning new work rules—written and un-written—so that you weren’t creating problems right off the bat.
- Can you remember what it felt like to give up control of your life when you went into the military or other organization? You know, when someone else told you what to do and how to do it… You were probably a bit resentful, even if you managed to comply. Most of us find small ways in which to act out that rebellion—sneaking a forbidden treat, making jokes about the people in charge, etc.
“For emotional preparation, the prospective resident should be involved in as much of the decision-making as possible. Fear of the unknown can make an admission more difficult. Both the caregiver and resident should be able to spend some time in the facility, with the staff, other residents, and other family members until some kind of comfort is developed.” Peter Silin, MSW, RSW
I think you get the point. Moving your loved one puts them into the emotional pool I’ve just asked you to swim in. By answering these questions, you can begin to experience some of what your loved one is experiencing. This sense of loss of the familiar, confusion in the new place with new people, and new regimes is especially heightened if your loved one is suffering from dementia.
Stretch your imagination far enough to strategize ways to ease the transition and AND the emotional upset it will engender. There’s a terrific article by Peter Silin, MSW, RSW entitled “Moving Into a Nursing Home: A Guide For Families”. Take a look at it if you’re in the process, or if you can see this in your future down the road. It can be a big help in easing the stress for you and your loved one.